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Vivendi in fresh overture to Mediaset

Vivendi has contacted Mediaset senior management with a request to set up a meeting to find a path to a potential agreement that would settle outstanding disputes between the warring pair, according to press reports.

According to Reuters, citing unnamed sources, Mediaset’s board will probably examine the request in the coming days.

The latest overture from the French media group follows on from an initial communication when it secured a significant legal victory in Spain that effectively suspended Mediaset’s plans for a cross-border merger with its Italian arm under a new Dutch-registered holding company, MediaForEurope (MFE).

The Spanish judge considering the case upheld the suspension of the merger, confirming an earlier court ruling from October that led to Mediaset and Mediaset España approving certain changes to the proposed statute of MFE.

Mediaset said of the ruling that it “causes serious damage” to the company and its Spanish subsidiary and “to all shareholders of the two companies as well as to the entire European television ecosystem”.

The Italian media outfit said that “since the birth of a new pan-European broadcaster is objectively made more and more indispensable by the new economic scenario” it would resume the merger operation “on a new basis” as soon as possible.

Following its legal win in Spain, Vivendi, which holds a 28.8% stake in Mediaset, most of held in a trust to comply with a controversial Italian media law, sent a letter to Mediaset’s board offering to set out a new way forward that, in its telling, protected the rights of minority shareholders. Mediaset’s board examined the letter, which it characterised as too little, too late. It said that Vivendi’s communication lacked “the necessary concrete proposals” that could enable Mediaset to realise the objectives of the MediaForEurope project.

The latest overture from Vivendi is not believed to contain concrete proposals, but only an offer to discuss the areas of dispute between the companies, which have been in a state of more or less open warfare since 2016, when Vivendi pulled out of a previously agreed deal to acquire Mediaset’s pay TV operation.